Cape Town - The farmworkers' strike in the Western Cape has
not been suspended, the Black Association of the Wine and Spirit Industry
(Bawsi) said on Thursday.
"The strike will continue across the province until
there is an agreement for better wages and worker protection," said Nosey
Pieterse, Bawsi president and general secretary of the Building and Allied
Workers Union of SA (Bawusa).
"Workers who go back do so at a huge risk. They are
going back to vindictive farmers, more dismissals, victimisation and
intimidation; the same old life, the same old money."
Pieterse, who said he represented thousands of striking
workers, cited an example in Piket-Bo-Berg of such victimisation.
He said farmers in the area allegedly invited workers to
return on Tuesday and when they did, fired 41 of them.
The Congress of SA Trade Unions (Cosatu) on Wednesday
announced the strike would be suspended for a week.
Provincial secretary Tony Ehrenreich said the strike would
resume next Wednesday unless Agri SA agreed to certain conditions.
"The only real thing that Agri SA has to agree to is
that they will not victimise workers for standing up and protesting against the
R69 a day starvation wage."
Agri SA also needed to "honour their previous
commitments to local-level agreements".
Farmworkers went on strike last year to demand their daily
wage be increased from R69 to R150, and that a coherent land reform programme
be implemented. The strike was suspended in December, but resumed on Wednesday
last week in various towns in the province.
At least 180 people had been arrested in connection with the
protests since Wednesday last week.
Agri SA president Johannes Moller said in a statement on
Wednesday that no agricultural wage deal had yet been made in the country.
He said a single Clanwilliam farmer had made an agreement
that was "welcomed by Cosatu and portrayed by them as a collective deal
with Clanwilliam farmers".
He said Cosatu viewed this isolated deal as one which could
"serve as a trend-setter for wider application".
The offer was apparently not supported or mandated as a
collective agreement by other farm leaders and their organisations in the area.
Agri SA had repeatedly called for individual farmers to
negotiate with their workers, which was apparently taking place.
Western Cape police spokesperson Andre Traut said no arrests
or reports of violence linked to the protest were recorded overnight or on